· Advance estimates of retail and food services sales for November were up 0.2% from the previous month, and were up 4.2% from November 2017. Excluding motor vehicle & parts, sales were up 0.2% from the previous month, and were up 4.9% from a year ago. Year-to-date, retail sales and food services were up 5.3% from the same period of 2017.
· Total manufacturing and trade sales for October were up 0.3% from the previous month, and were up 6.1% from October 2017. Total business inventories were up 0.6% from the previous month, and were up 5.2% from a year ago. The inventories/sales ratio was 1.35, compared to 1.36 in October of 2017.
· Total Industrial production increased 0.6% in November, following a decrease of 0.2% in the previous month. Total Industrial production was up 3.9% from November 2017. The capacity utilization rate was 78.5 in November, 1.4 percentage points below the average for the 1972-2017 period, and 1.4 percentage points above the November 2017 level.
· The Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) released prototype statistics for gross domestic product (GDP) by county for 2012-2015. Combined with BEA’s county estimates of personal income, GDP by county offers a more complete picture of local area economic conditions. In 2015, real (inflation adjusted) GDP increased in 1,931 counties, decreased in 1,159, and was unchanged in 23. Real GDP ranged from $4.6 million in Loving County, Texas to $656.0 billion in Los Angeles County, California. Of the 138 large counties, those with populations greater than 500,000, real GDP increased in 125 and decreased in 13 in 2015. Of the 461 medium-sized counties, those with populations between 100,000 and 500,000, real GDP increased in 336, decreased in 120, and was unchanged in 5 in 2015. Of the 2,514 small counties, those with populations less than 100,000, real GDP increased in 1,470, decreased in 1,026, and was unchanged in 18 in 2015.
· The federal budget had a deficit of $204.9 billion in November, compared with a deficit of $100.5 billion in October and a deficit of $138.5 billion in November of 2017. The cumulative deficit for the first two months of the fiscal year 2019 was $305.4 billion, compared with a deficit of $201.8 billion during the same period of the previous fiscal year.
· Import prices decreased 1.6% in November, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, following a 0.5% increase in the previous month. Prices for imports increased 0.7% from November 2017. The price index for exports decreased 0.9% in November, after increasing 0.5% in the previous month. Prices for exports advanced 1.8% over the past year.
· The producer price index for final demand (headline index) increased 0.1% in November, following an increase of 0.6% in the previous month. The index for final demand less foods, energy, and trade increased 0.3%, following an increase of 0.2% in the previous month. The producer price index for final demand (headline index) increased 2.5% from November 2017 to November 2018, while the index for final demand less foods, energy, and trade increased 2.8%.
· The consumer price index (headline index) held steady in November, following a 0.3% increase in the previous month. The core index, all items less food and energy, increased 0.2%, the same increase as in the previous month. The consumer price index increased 2.2% for the 12-month period ending in November. The core index also rose 2.2% from a year ago.
· Real average hourly earnings for all employees increased 0.3% from October to November. This result stems from a 0.2% increase in average hourly earnings combined with no change in the consumer price index for all urban consumers.
· The advance figure for initial claims for unemployment insurance decreased 27 thousand to 206 thousand in the week ending December 8. The 4-week moving average was 224.75 thousand, a decrease of 3.75 thousand from the previous week’s revised average. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment (ongoing) during the week ending December 1 was 1,661 thousand, an increase of 25 thousand from the previous week’s revised level. The 4-week moving average was 1,665.75, a decrease of 2.5 thousand from the previous week’s revised average
· The number of job openings was little changed at 7.1 million on the last business day of October, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Over the month, hires edged up to 5.9 million, and separations were little changed at 5.6 million.
· A total of 165.2 million persons worked at some point during 2017, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The proportion of the civilian non-institutional population age 16 and over who worked at some time during 2017 was 64.2%, little changed from 2016. The number of persons who experienced some unemployment during 2017 declined by 1.1 million to 14.5 million.
· Employer costs for employee compensation averaged $36.63 per hour worked in September 2018, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Wages and salaries averaged $25.03 per hour worked and accounted for 68.3 percent of these costs, while benefit costs averaged $11.60 and accounted for the remaining 31.7 percent. Total employer compensation costs for private industry workers averaged $34.53 per hour worked in September 2018. Total employer compensation costs for state and local government workers averaged $50.03 per hour worked in September 2018.
· The results of Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey showed average fixed mortgage rates dropped significantly after several weeks of moderating. 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.63% for the week ending December 13, down from last week when it averaged 4.75%. A year ago at this time, the 30-year fixed-rate averaged 3.93%. 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.07%, down from last week when it averaged 4.21%. A year ago at this time, the 15-year fixed-rate averaged 3.36%.
· Mortgage applications increased 1.6% from a week earlier, according to data from Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Applications Survey for the week ending December 7th.